Jul 29, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu (79) hits a two RBI double in the eighth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jose Abreu had one of the best rookie seasons ever in the majors, not just with the Chicago White Sox in 2014.
Abreu, who signed a six-year deal this past offseason with the White Sox after defecting from Cuba, put on a show for fans of the White Sox and those of baseball in general.
Apr 27, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox designated hitter Jose Abreu at bat against the Tampa Bay Rays at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
The right-handed power hitter played in 145 of 162 games for the White Sox, equaling 556 at-bats. In those 500-plus at-bats, he had 176 hits, and of those hits, No. 79 on the White Sox roster totaled 73 extra-base hits, including 36 home runs, 35 doubles and two triples.
Abreu totaled 107 RBIs and walked 51 times, totaling 323 bases in his rookie season. Abreu also led the majors in slugging at .581, the first White Sox batter to do so since 1974 (Dick Allen). Abreu’s ’14 slugging percentage with the 15th best SLG in White Sox history.
All of those accolades, and we have yet to mention the rookie slugger batted .317, one of just two White Sox batters to achieve the .300 feat, the other being lead-off hitter Adam Eaton, who finished at .300.
Just having Abreu on the White Sox roster changed the mindset of the ball club at the plate, and it showed with a 10-win improvement from the previous season. Abreu brings hope to the White Sox and is an actual game changer every time he steps into the batter’s box.
Though Abreu struck out 131 times this past season and was on the disabled list for one stint, he was able to gain national attention by being the first rookie to be the AL Player of the Month on two occasions and was the AL Rookie of the Month three times.
In the first 29 games of his MLB career, Abreu had 32 RBIs and 31 hits, and in April, he hit 10 home runs.
From the months of June-August, Abreu had monthly batting averages of: .313, .374 and .376, totaling 106 hits, 57 RBIs, 42 runs, 21 doubles and 18 home runs in 78 games (299 at-bats).
In fact, before the All-Star break, Abreu was batting .292 (82 games), and in the final 63 games he played after being an All-Star for the first time, Abreu batted .350 with 34 RBIs and seven home runs.
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The first 29 home runs of Abreu’s career came in his first 82 games.
Being this was the first year that Abreu faced major league pitching, he did extremely well, and if he can avoid the dreaded “sophomore slump,” he’ll most likely surpass these ’14 numbers next season.
Take this for example:
Abreu against former Cy Young Award winners and AL Central rivals Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers, he collected 13 hits, going 8-of-16 (.500 BA) against Verlander with two home runs, five runs, eight total hits.
Against Scherzer Abreu was 5-of-17 with one double, one run, one RBI and an barring average of .294.
Abreu’s walk-off grand slam in April against the Tampa Bay Rays at US Cellular Field was by far his most exciting moment of the year, but just having Abreu on the team was exciting enough, as he did have a .383 on-base percentage.
White Sox fans should expect more moments like that as his career progresses. Abreu will most likely be the AL Rookie of the Year, and if he’s not in the Top 3 of the AL MVP voting, I’ll be surprised.
If I had to vote for the “White Sox MVP,” Abreu would be the player I would vote for.
He’s the future of this organization, and even with the great season he had, I believe the best is yet to come.